comments 3

Was that music or construction noise?

I’ve begun my first tentative steps learning to play fiddle. I’m reminding myself that my first days on button accordion were a struggle, figuring out to to manage air and cope with learning two sets of fingering, one for pushing and the other for pulling. Early days with clawhammer were challenging too,  learning to strike the individual strings cleanly and getting the basic frailing stroke down. I think fiddle has an even steeper learning curve than both those instruments and there are plenty of initial challenges to overcome.

Putting in some time learning to get clean tones seems to be the order of the day, but it is easier said than done. I practiced simply getting good full tones on open strings, going from one string to another, and after a while I got the hang of that. Of course everything fell apart when I tried to finger a simple tune. I found that as I concentrated on finding the right finger positions, getting the pitch as correct as I could, I messed up with the bow hand.

It is, however a start, and I’m managing my expectations. My fingers will get used to finding the right finger positions and my ear will tell me when I’m off. Bowing too will get easier the more I work at. I know from my experience playing other instruments that I will learn through playing tunes, and that my patience for exercises and scales is limited. On clawhammer, I’ll work on a tune, spending extra time on the tougher bits, going back and forth between the whole tune and the parts that need work. I also know I’ll keep at it as long as I’m having fun and seeing some improvement along the way. This morning by the time our Newfs Ruby and George told me it was time to stop, I was playing a very rough and scratchy Lisa Jane, and I’m telling myself that’s a good start. Rome was not built in a day and like that. I don’t plan on moving on to anything else until I can play that one so it sounds like fiddle instead of construction noise.



  1. Salvelinas Fontinalis

    Not everybody is enlightened about what they play. She might learn.

  2. Salvelinas Fontinalis

    I like the concept of recording yourself every 2-3 weeks so that you can actually get an impartial view of your progress. The trick is to keep all the videos and look at your progress every few months. I think violin has to be a lot harder than banjo. Both have the fingering thing to make different notes but violin has that whole bowing issue that makes beginners sound depressingly horrible and it takes some determination to get past that. I stumbled on a video of a woman who has been playing for 2 years and had been making progress videos and she strung together short bits from each so you could quickly see her progress. Her first 6 months were sort of grim but after that she improved very quickly. Watching the progression was interesting I thought.

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